Rerurn to Romy the Cat's Site

Musical Discussions
Topic: (VERY) Belated Lhevinne response

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Posted by Paul S on 06-15-2008
PCA LM 2355 (2-channel mono)

I don't listen to a lot of Rachmaninoff, buut I would if more of it was done like this.

Here is a young Van Cliburn, just back from his USSR tour, playing at Carnigie hall with Kiril Kondrashin directing the Symphony of the Air, May 19, 1958.
Kondrashin does a decidedly "narrative" reading here, and Van Cliburn is simply magical.  The orchestra is just right, very "considerate", but also very "conscious", well under Kondrashin's direction, and he well knows the score, along with apparent extreme sensitivity to Van Cliburn.  The interplay is quite special.

Throughout the concerto Kondrashin typically plays "under" Van Cliburn, in terms of pitch.  Then, in the third movement, Van Cliburn keeps dropping along with Kondrashin until Van Cliburn -  somehow - seems to make his piano "drop a full register".  I have no idea how he does it.  It is not at all gimicky; it is very, very cool.

I liked this concerto the first time I heard it, when I was a kid.  It seemed very "progressive" to me at the time.  I may not have listened carefully to this piece since, until now.

Crazy beautiful.

Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-15-2008
I never was a big fun of Cliburn, if you like him then try to found Josef Lhevinne… much more interning. I do remember however that Cliburn’s Rach3 was OK. If I am not mistaken Cliburn played alternative slow cadenza in fist moment – a rarity at that time – and he did a very nice job, though I think in the way how it become fashionable to play nowadays- with very slow exit from the cadenza – I like it better.

Generally it is interesting to see how tasted to Rach3 are changing with time. The more I listen the Third the more I am in bad with Gieseking with Barbirolli…

The cat

Posted by Paul S on 06-15-2008
Yes, you remember correctly; this begins quite slowly; but it is so "charged" with content that it does not "seem slow" so much as it draws you in.  I usually adapt my listening to whatever cadence the artist chooses, at least give them the benefit of the doubt for a while.  I am not so much a "Cliburn fan" as I simply listened to and appreciate this great playing and this great reading and rendering of a great concerto.

I know a lot of people - especially young people -  don't get Gieseking, but I happen to like a lot of his work. But I'm not sure he ever played slow?  I can only guess how quickly Barbarolli and Gieseking together would blow through the Rach PC3.

I always felt like some fast players, like Gieseking and Hofmann, at their bests better facilitated real music than others who merely "affect" any given tempo; just like the idiots who make a big show of crossing hands...  please...

I sometimes fear that some great music will just "get lost" to a generation or so.

Forget it's Cliburn.  It listens good.

Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-16-2008
Paul, did you ever heard the Barbarolli and Gieseking? Gieseking painlessly slow opens the first movement but he does it so smart, so tactful, so sensitive and so ingenusly that it opens a totally new meaning how it might be done. The play has a lot of mistakes (it is live) and a lot of very unusual turns and twists but they all works absolutely wonderfully. BTW, it was played with Rachmaninoff himself among the audiences.

The Cat

Posted by Paul S on 07-19-2008

I'm afraid I post like I do lots of other things, meaning while I am doing lots of other things, as well.  Plainly, I dropped the ball on your Lhevinne reference, Romy, and I mean to address it now.

Maybe I'm wrong, but reading your post again, I take it as a little bit sarcastic with respect to Cliburn, the way he could sometimes be a bit "too much", like my "crossing hands" sarcasm from another post.  And, FWIW, I agree; but certainly not in the cited performances.

Just so you know, I love Josef Lhevinne!  Sure, it's "over the top"; but in his case, it works for me; if he is not THE original he is certainly AN original.

Best regards,
Paul S

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